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Published in December, 1850, this work in its original form was entitled Social Statics : or, the Conditions essential to Human Happiness specified, and the first of them developed. A number of years passed-some ten, I think
I before the edition was exhausted ; and as the demand seemed not great enough to warrant the setting up of type for a new edition, it was decided to import an edition from America, where the work had been stereotyped. After this had been disposed of a third edition was similarly imported.
In the meantime I had relinquished some of the conclusions drawn from the first principle laid down. Further, though still adhering to this first principle, one of the bases assigned for it had been given up by me. To the successive editions I therefore prefixed the statement that some of the doctrines set forth needed qualification; but excused myself from making the changes called for, because they could not be made without suspending more important work. Eventually, it became manifest that the warning given did not prevent misinterpretations of my later beliefs; and, therefore, ten years ago, after all copies of the third edition had been sold, I resolved not again to import a supply to meet the stillcontinued demand.
As, however, the fundamental idea enunciated, and many of the deductions have survived in me, I have all along intended that these should be put in a permanently accessible form; and in 1890 at leisure times I went through the work, erasing some portions, abridging others, and subjecting the whole to a careful verbal revision. Its purely systematic division is now replaced by Part IV. of The Principles of Ethics : Justice—a part in which the ethical doctrine originally set
forth in an imperfect form, is freed from its crudities and made scientifically coherent. But Justice contains neither the discussions which, in Social Statics, preceded the constructive division, nor the series of chapters in which, towards the close, the political implications were pointed out. Both of these portions seem worth preserving.
I am desirous of preserving also certain passages containing ideas, and the germs of ideas, which, since 1850, have undergone large developments. These have a certain biographio-historical interest, as indicating stages of growth in thoughts. The more significant of them will be found on p. 32, pp. 33–35, pp. 121-22, pp. 149–50, pp. 180–81, pp. 203–6, p. 245, pp. 249–51, pp. 267-70.
In the latter part of the work, numerous references are made to the events of the day and to institutions existing when it was written. During the forty years which have since passed, social changes have diminished or destroyed the relevancy of some of these references. It has seemed best, however, to leave them as they were; partly because the arguments remain equally valid though their data are altered; partly because substituting other illustrations would entail on me more labour than I can now afford; and partly because, even were the illustrations brought up to date, lapse of years
would soon make them out of date. My first intention was to call this volume, or rather part of a volume, “Fragments from Social Statics,” and afterwards, “Selections from Social Statics.” Both of these titles, however, seemed to indicate a much less coherent assemblage of parts than it contains. On the other hand, to call it an abridgment is somewhat misleading; since the word fails to imply that large and constructively-important parts are omitted. No title, however, appears appropriate; and I have at length decided that Social Statics, abridged and revised, is the least inappropriate.
LONDON, January, 1892.